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Is the Russian coronavirus vaccine safe and effective?

In the U.S., most drugs go through a three-stage clinical trial.

SAN ANTONIO — Russia says it has won the race to develop a novel coronavirus vaccine several months ahead of the first expected vaccine in the U.S. But is the Russian vaccine both safe and effective? 

Various reports say Russia is touting that to be the case. However, unlike in the U.S., we don't know if any agency actually looked at the data, so the news should be taken with a grain of salt. 

"The data of those results from the Russian trials, if what we read is true, is not yet anywhere certain in terms of should we trust it as being safe and effective," said Harry Croft, a psychiatrist with Clinical Trials of Texas. 

There are concerns that researchers skipped standard safeguards in Russia to speed up development.

"We don't know what they did in Russia," Croft said. "I've read several reports, one of which said this drug was studied in several dozen patients."

In the U.S. most vaccines go through a three-stage clinical trial. Phase one involves a small group of people receiving the experimental treatment to see if it is safe and determine the dosage. In stage two, the study is expanded and given to people to whom the vaccine is intended for, such as a certain age group or physical condition. 

In the third and final stage before FDA approval, the drug is given to thousands of people over a longer period of time to monitor it's safety. 

"Both of the drugs being studied here in San Antonio have passed phase two trials, with many more than a few dozen patients, and are now starting phase three trials with many thousands of patients," Croft said. 

In a Twitter poll with 235 respondents, 80.9% said they would not be willing to take the Russia-made vaccine.